ANNOUNCEMENT

I’m sure that many of you that are working from home are familiar with virtual private networks or VPN, which is a way for you to connect to your employer’s internal network from home.

I won’t get into the details very much but I will say that last week, I discovered my company’s VPN no longer blocks access to certain pornographic sites. This discovery was done by accident and unfortunately after the fact. Also note that my employer also has the ability to track which sites I visit while on VPN.

That’s all I have to say about that.

SUCCESS

As you may know, I have been trying to reach Disney by phone to change the start date of my Disneyworld passes. Prior to this weekend, I have been on hold with them for about eight hours in total, over the course of about three attempts. Each time, I have not been able to get through to anyone before having to hang up and do other things.

On Saturday, I decided to try again, this time starting around 2:30pm. I knew their customer service line ends each day at 8pm, so I had almost six hours to get through. The only way this was even tolerable was that each time I called I was using my Zoom account. When I changed phone plans about a year ago, I gave up free US long distance calling and Disney’s number is not a toll-free one. If I had been using my own phone to call, I probably would have racked up hundreds of dollars in extra charges. My Zoom account through work allows for long-distance calling to the US.

I also used a headset for the call, so this allowed me to be hands-free the entire time. On Saturday, I had a bunch of housework to do, so I just started the call and did everything I needed to do that day. I did several chores, took breaks to drink and eat, and I even turned the call volume down to watch a few YouTube videos.

Somewhere along the three and a half hour mark of being on hold, the hold music stopped and I heard the familiar sound of a call going through and ringing. Had I finally waited long enough to get through to a real person? The call connected and a person identified themselves and asked me how I was doing and what they could help me with for today. I was kinda speechless for a few seconds.

I kinda stammered out that I needed to change the start dates of my tickets to a date as far into the future as possible. They asked me some verification questions and we managed to move my tickets out one full calendar year. The whole customer service interaction lasted about five minutes and I was done.

I was on hold for probably close to twelve hours total, for something that took five minutes to fix. Interestingly, the customer service person also fixed some sorta bug with my reservations so that it’s now possible for me to change the dates by using the Disney web site now. This means that when I need to change the dates of the tickets again, I won’t need to repeat this tortuous exercise.

What an adventure this has been.

HEATED FLOORS

Most of my apartment is now just bare, rough concrete floors. As the temperatures have dropped, it’s not exactly the best feeling on my bare feet. It is cold to the touch for the most part.

Last night, however, I discovered an odd thing. I was walking near the end of my bed when I realized the floor was much warmer under foot. The concrete here was warm and inviting. I stepped away to make sure I wasn’t imagining it. Sure enough, the other parts of the concrete floor in my bedroom were not heated. Where was this coming from?

This was happening near the baseboard heater in my bedroom but the heater was not on. What I can guess is that the person who lives below me had their heat on (their heater is in the same place) and as the heat rises, it was heating their ceiling and then transferring the heat to my concrete floor.

I had no such comfort tonight as that part of my floor remained cold.

DISNEY HOLD MUSIC

I was on hold with Disney on the phone for another two hours today without any success in getting through. I think I need to try a four hour block of time next time. Two hours isn’t enough time.

If there’s one thing, even if it’s very small, that has been positive about this experience is that the hold music really good. Most companies have friendly, non-threatening hold music, usually top-40 or classical but Disney has an amazing catalogue of music to choose from. Now you might think they leverage some of their biggest hits from Disney movies but their selections are more sophisticated than that. Most of their songs are selected from music you might hear from their theme parks. It’s so smart, since while you’re on hold, you’re somewhat experiencing what you’d be listening to if you were at one of their theme park locations.

Some of these songs are now stuck in my head due to repetition. They may not mean anything to you because you haven’t heard them a dozen times now over the last four days or so, but to me, they are very relevant. It took me about thirty minutes of Googling to find out some of these songs. They are now listed below in random order.

COLD

It is what I would describe as cold now in the greater Vancouver area. The last day I felt it was still quite warm was on the weekend before the Thanksgiving one. Evenings now require a jacket for sure, unless you want to feel uncomfortable.

I have closed all my windows down to a sliver, just to let in fresh air. It’s no longer practical to lounge around in a t-shirt, so I’ve started wearing a hoodie inside, as soon as I roll out of bed. I almost thought about turning the heat on in the living room. This is something I did not have the possibility of doing for about three years. Every since I removed the fake electric fireplace, there has been no heat source in my living room. I got a new baseboard heater installed last spring and this is the first cold season where I’ll get to use it. I probably won’t use it too much since I am cheap and electricity costs money.

ON HOLD

Since I am not going to Florida in November, there are some Disney park tickets I need to take care of. Disney doesn’t allow you to get a refund on tickets you purchase, even if you want a refund before the actual start date of the ticket. Your only real option is to push the start date of the ticket as far into the future as possible. The hope is that one day you’ll be ready to use the ticket again. Disney also makes it really difficult to do this. While most of the world has moved to the world of the Internet, Disney requires you to call a phone number to make changes to your tickets. Here’s the interesting thing. Disney will allow you to buy park tickets, make park reservations, and make hotel reservations online, but if you want to make changes, you gotta call this number.

Ok, so yeah, calling a number is more an inconvenience than doing things online but it’s not that bad, right? Whatever call centre Disney has set up for this purpose must have two people on staff. Though the call line is supposedly open from 8am to 11pm EST, I have yet to get through. Each time, a recorded message tells me that call volumes are high and my anticipated wait time is over ten minutes. I think I’ve tried to call them three times now and here is how long I’ve waited before I had to hang up because I had other things to do: two and half hours, two hours, and one and a half hours.

Disney is a multi-billion dollar company, with amusement parks, TV shows, and movies that rake in money by the landfill. As a corporate entity, there is very little that can’t do or have a problem they can’t solve. So if I have been on hold for approaching eight hours in total and I still can’t speak to a Disney representative, that’s not because Disney can’t figure out how to solve this problem, it’s because they don’t really care about helping me trying to change my tickets.

I am going to try to call Disney again this week and hopefully I’ll be able to get through.

FLOORING MEASUREMENTS

Someone from the flooring company came to my apartment today to take measurements and to make a general assessment of the levelness of my concrete. To my surprise, they said it wasn’t too bad in terms of levelness, though it will require some work for sure. My biggest fear was that they would need to flood the entire surface of my living room and bedroom but he didn’t think that would be necessary. He showed me pictures of an apartment nearby that had very uneven subfloors and it required nearly thirty large bags of leveling compound. It was essentially laying down a new concrete floor for the entire apartment.

The next step is to get a real and accurate quote from the flooring company. Then I need to get approval from strata to start the work.

SLIVER

I spent most of my evening trying to remove a sliver from one of fingers. It looks like I somehow embedded a piece of facial hair in my finger. It was prickly enough to embed itself into my skin. There’s not enough of it for two different types of tweezers to remove it. I’m gonna have to leave it for now.

MISCELLANEOUS

I had to buy a new router for my home. The one that I bought for about $20 almost ten years ago seems to slow down to one-quarter speed at random times and then stays at that speed until I notice how slow it is. I then have to reboot the router, which seems to fix it until it happens again. I suppose I could just do this indefinitely and save myself a few dollars but wifi technology has come a long in the last decade.

I decided to get a new router that also operates on the 5GHz band as well as the old 2.4GHz. Back in my day, routers commonly only had two antennas but this new one has four. So the router was delivered today but sadly, I am not able to install it. It’s double the size of my old one so the short Ethernet cables I have in my network closet aren’t long enough to reach where this new router needs to go because it’s so big. I had to order a five-pack of longer Ethernet cables before this new piece of equipment can go in.

On the flooring front, the dude who I’ve been talking to took a week off last week so I wasn’t able to make any progress there until today. I returned the samples I got from the flooring store and then we booked an appointment for them to come to my place to take rough measurements. I also got a rough quote from them. It won’t be cheap to get new floors, that’s all I’ll have to say about that for now.

I totally get why some people install their own floors, it can save you thousands of dollars but it’s just not practical in my case. I am not the most natural home renovation person and I know I would made a ton of mistakes. A lot of these mistakes would just wind up costing me money, time, and frustration. In the end, I wouldn’t even be able to guarantee I’d have new floors that I would be happy with. This is one of the times where spending money to get a professional to utilize their skills and experience is completely worth it.